We awoke before dawn to Steve’s alarm. It was 0 Dark Hundred, time to get up and at ‘em, but our cabin thermostat read 55 degrees, and the fact that my nose was cold verified that reading. The momentary reflection that Steph and Luke and their housemates in Boston keep their thermostat at this temperature in the winter did not make me any more eager to roll out of bed. But a few moments later and once again on the river, we were reminded how beautiful early morning is, and the sunrise did not disappoint. Three miles downriver, locking through at Heflin was delayed by a gate that required 45 minutes of persuasion by the lock master to close.
While we sat there, the other pleasure craft in the lock hailed us on the radio, and this being the boat which shared the anchorage with us last night, we invited him to join us for dinner in Demopolis tonight. We cruised most of the 50 miles at the lower helm, but the last 10 were pleasant on the flybridge once we dressed in winter layers—fleece, down, cashmere, pashmina. We laughed at our attire, remarking that this was never our image; “Chase eighty,” is the Looper motto. Nonetheless, it was a beautiful day under a cloudless blue sky, and at least our sun glasses were congruent with our preconceptions!
Arriving in Demopolis, we pulled up to the fuel dock in front of which was a couple feet of floating debris. Steve recognized the attendant as the son of the marina owner, the son having helped us with some engine repair work in September.
Steve: Are you Matt?
Matt: It depends…
Steve chatted with him about our dinghy engine which still is not working well after dropping nearly a “boat unit” repairing it in Kentucky, and Matt affirmed one thing that we suspected, that something about our gas can, the lines, or the connection were “sheee-it.” (Matt’s word, not mine.) We bought a new venting gas can from him and he helped us transfer the fuel from old to new. One might hope that’s the end of that story…. but it’s not. Steve had to row back from the test run, so this saga is to be continued.
Red Pearl having been slipped here during the summer, it was good to see Kingfisher Marina “super” Anna Marie again and her 3 beloved dogs which she loads onto her golf cart several times a day for their necessary ablutions.
As we tried to eat lunch, Loopers came knocking on our door in succession, introducing themselves, visiting and telling their stories, and our to-do list went undone. Finally we had a moment to break free and run over to Bella Roma to introduce ourselves to Brian, our dinner companion, whose last name we never got. He gave us a tour of his beautiful probably-60-foot, 4-stateroom yacht, and we enjoyed visiting over a glass of wine. We enjoyed more companionable conversation over dinner at the local favorite, Red Barn. A professor of psychology at Vanderbilt, he also implements assessment programs for industry, and shared about his experience with Vanderbilt Medical School and Nursing School. We learned that he supports his yachting habit by offering 3-hour charters, both in Nashville and in St. Pete which is where he is headed. It was a delightful evening.
We have heard that the river continues to be so high and fast that even Bobby’s Fish Camp has removed their pier and is not serving their iconic fried catfish. There being no other civilization on the 200 mile stretch between Demopolis and Mobile, everyone stops at Bobby’s! Stories abound about boats rafted up 4-abreast and boaters traipsing, albeit apologetically, across the decks of several boats to get ashore during high season. As we anticipate heading out into this winding wilderness, we’ve decided to give ourselves an additional day at Demopolis to organize and attend to some chores on the boat and enjoy Mexican dinner at Las Fuentes, a great place we stumbled onto last June. We’ll travel with three other Looping boats, and after a final powwow in the Kingfisher laundry room, we have a plan.